pedagogical documentation, document4learning

Documentation Tools: Five Considerations for a “Just Right” Fit

Pedagogical documentation enables us to capture learning made visible and assess our students’ strengths and needs without disrupting the learning process. One potential anecdote to the testing mess, documentation inspires us to create rich narratives that deepen our understanding of learners and their experiences. This is a beautiful thing. Experience is teaching me that pedagogical documentation is also incredibly complex work that is not without its challenges. For instance, helping teachers and students choose the best documentation tools for their work has been an ongoing struggle.

When we began documenting for learning in the makerspace at Roy B. Kelley Elementary School earlier this month, we invited the kids to contribute to our efforts:


Rachel O’Sheehan, librarian extraordinaire, created a documentation tool that allowed makers to document their learning, work, and reflections throughout the process, and we were all impressed by how quickly and thoughtfully they engaged with it. There was only one (somewhat major) problem: They were spending more time documenting than making and learning. This discovery fueled our debrief, and Rachel made some quick and effective adjustments that significantly improved the next day’s work, and I learned a great deal as well.

Take a peek at the tool below. I’ve tried to create a bit of a thinking routine for teachers and students who are about to begin documentation work. I’m looking forward to testing it in a different setting this week, knowing very well that choosing the best tool is a bit of a balancing act. It may be impossible to attend to all of these factors, and it’s likely that there is no “just right” tool.

What do you think? What would you add? How would you change it? Feel free to download, share, and remix it too. 

pedagogical documentation, document4learning

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